Friday, March 4, 2011
Its interiors were designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany (see original in situ stained glass at left and right), Stanford White, the Herter Brothers (designers of the now demolished William H. Vanderbilt 5th Avenue mansion), Albert Wagner (who designed the Puck Building at 295-309 Lafayette St.) and other leading artists and decorators of the American Aesthetic Movement (a hodge podge of what people of that time thought was grand and exotic from Greek, Egyptian Asian, Celtic, and Moresque styles) (see ceiling below in the Veterans Room).
While armories built later would follow this 7th Regiment Park Avenue Armory in structure and exterior style (castle like--see top photo), none would ever achieve the beauty and artistic richness of this one. Many of the gas light fixtures built in ornate wrought iron were later electrified (some were combinations of both gas and electricity, called gasolieres) and were designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany and built by Mitchell Vance & Co. (see left) The hearths in the Mary Divver Room (the ladies reception room) and the Field and Staff Room (the one with a bar) have original Minton art tiles.
Each Company within the Armory also had their own lounges (and own decorators) on the 2nd floor. These rooms all had built in or movable pianos, most have intricately carved lockers, some have highly stylized balconies (see above right), most had detailed wall stencils, and all had artwork of all types (from armor and spears (see left) to mounted animal heads). If you get the chance, try to get a peak at the Company C room (whose by invitation only membership consisted of the millionaires of the millionaires like the Astors and the Vanderbilts) with its original painted ceilings, woodwork and mace-shaped lighting fixtures.
Oh by the way, you should also visit the Armory if you can attend one of their numerous art shows, musical or theatrical performances, or private "salon-style" shows (held in the 2nd floor Company Rooms) by one of their resident artists or performers. Check their website (http://www.armoryonpark.org/) for specifics that may be of interest to you. I personally am planning to attend one of the Shakespearean plays for which the Armory is going to build a theater in the round in the 55,000 sq. ft. column-free space of The Wade Thompson Drill Hall and have the Royal Shakespeare Company for 6 weeks to perform 5 plays. I can't wait!